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'I couldn’t be prouder of them. I’m sure they’re going to bounce back again' - Donoghue

The Galway manager heaped praise on Limerick and didn’t draw on any excuses following their one-point defeat.

Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

MICHEAL DONOGHUE REFUSED to use any excuses in the wake of Galway’s narrow All-Ireland final defeat to Limerick yesterday.

A late rally of 2-2 in stoppage-time left the Tribesmen on the cusp of a draw, having trailed by nine points after 54 minutes. But Joe Canning’s last-gasp free from way inside his own half dropped short and Limerick were crowned champions.

It consigned Donoghue to just a third championship defeat in as many seasons in charge of the Tribesmen and his first loss since the 2016 All-Ireland semi-final.

“In fairness, firstly you have to take your hat off to Limerick and we have to congratulate them wholeheartedly,” said a disappointed Donoghue afterwards.

“They came out and started really well and they played the game on their terms and we probably struggled a small bit to get into the game but all the credit has to go to Limerick.

“At half-time, we just discussed where we were and areas we needed to improve on and I think we did in the second half and in fairness to Limerick, they got the big scores when they needed them but our boys fought to the end and I’m really proud of them.

“I couldn’t be prouder of them. Anything we’ve asked of these lads since we came in, they’ve been top notch. They’ve been one of the top teams, they’ve been knocking on the door for so long.

“Obviously last year we made the breakthrough, which was massive and there was a lot of learnings we’ll take from the year as well in terms of… particularly early on and how we prepared for the year but they’re a great bunch to work with.

“As I said, there’s a huge understanding of the responsibility that goes with being involved in Galway and some massive leaders in there and all we can do any day is ask them to go out and give it 100% and they did and I’m really proud of him.

John Kiely with Michael Donoghue at the final whistle Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“That’s just the way it goes. All you can do is ask them to go to the final whistle and Joe was probably a bit unlucky with the free. It would have been great to get it but those are the margins, we take it on the chin, we have no choice now and just move on.”

It took Galway eight games to get to the final, including two replays and a bout of extra-time, but Donoghue didn’t believe fatigue was a factor for his players.

“I don’t know. Obviously we were where we wanted to be today. I still thought the two weeks, we had enough time and the lads bounced back really well. I’m not going to sit here and use any excuse. We didn’t hurl the way we want to hurl for periods in games. The lads worked really hard at the end of the game. My thoughts on the players isn’t going to change.

“We were just below par. Training had gone well for the last two weeks and we were in good form coming up this morning but look, it’s disappointing on the big day when it doesn’t go your way but you have to take it on the chin now and just move on.

“We’re bitterly disappointed. What we achieved together and where we want to go, this huge unity, huge trust, huge collective in that group and they’ve shown massive resilience down through the years when they’ve had setbacks and I’m sure they’re going to bounce back again.”

The Galway boss felt Shane Dowling’s goal near the end of normal-time was a decisive blow.

“I think we had a bit of momentum coming back into it. It was just probably a killer punch at that time. The plan was obviously to work it out from the back and go through the lines. I’m not going to fault our boys for it.

“That third goal rocked us but they worked themselves back into the game again and unfortunately the finish line came too quick.

“They worked really hard in the second half to put themselves back in the game. Huge credit to Limerick. They probably just had the edge on it the whole day and they’re deserving winners.”

Donoghue also confirmed that goalkeeper James Skehill suffered a “bad concussion” after his brave save on Seamus Flanagan. Skehill gingerly left the field and was replaced by debutant Fearghal Flannery in the closing stages.

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Kevin O'Brien

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